This afternoon, David Davis and Michel Barnier gave a joint press conference to update hacks on the progress that’s been made in the second instalment of Brexit talks. However, there wasn’t all that much progress to report back on.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said there was a ‘fundamental’ split between the EU and the UK over how to guarantee the rights of EU nationals. The disagreement rests on whether citizens’ rights should be backed by the Court of Justice of the European Union or the British courts. Barnier appeared to adopt a more hardline approach than before on the reasons for wanting the ECJ to rule on this – he said citizens had moved to the UK expecting this to be the case. There is also disagreement over ‘the rights of future family members or the exports of certain social benefits’.
On the Brexit divorce bill, Brussels appeared frustrated at the UK approach. The EU side called on Davis to ‘clarify the nature of its commitments’ so that discussions can begin. Overall, Barnier said progress had been made in the areas where the UK position was clear. The underlying suggestion was that on several issues the British negotiating stance is not clear at all – and this certainly backs up Whitehall whispers.